Wellness Tourism is a $639 billion market, projected to reach $919 billion by 2022.
Source: Global Wellness Institute.
All those yoga retreats and mind-expanding escapes have added to this incredible stat. The Retreat Biz is booming, especially in the wellness sector. No longer dominated by luxury wellness spas promising cleansing detox regimes in pristine surrounds, retreats have expanded to a wide variety of genres.
10 years ago, when I announced the launch of Bootcamp Bali Style, the typical reaction was ‘are you crazy?’ That one retreat in the first year led to 25-30 Active Style retreats a year.
Hot spots such as Bali, Costa Rica, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Thailand and have become meccas for the Retreat crowds.
Retreat Leaders from all walks of life are emerging, bouncing from one exotic location to the next, seemingly running their business from the hammock in between teaching classes in yoga/pilates/life coaching/biz skills/writing …….. (insert the endless possibilities).
“Fit-fluencers” are drawing followers to retreats around the world. Working up a sweat as they punch out sessions in fitness camp mode, complete with personal chefs dishing up the latest in ‘clean eating’ they’re delivering 24/7 healthy living.
Surfers are lining up their boards, teaching classes in between catching the best waves of the day. Toss in some yoga, good food, beach cabins and there you have it. A retreat.
Chefs are opening up their kitchens, creating culinary adventures for novices and connoisseurs alike.
Literary classrooms are springing up around the world. Writers are getting off the grid to do nothing but write, guided and inspired by published writers or literary mentors.
Online entrepreneurs have created a new class of retreat….. Workcations. A tribal gathering of Digital Nomads co-working, co-living, co-creating. You’ll find them tapping away on yachts, in mountain hideaways, poolside in the tropics. All they need is power and internet access.
Then there are those who convert a ranch, farm, tropical hideaway, beachside shack or urban warehouse into a Retreat Centre, calling it “home”, fully immersing themselves in the Retreat world.
Retreat Leaders appear to have the idyllic lifestyle . One that begs the question….
How do I join this band of Retreat entrepreneurs. Surely it can’t be that hard to run a Retreat, I already run a successful business?
It must be as simple as ….
- Book the villa/resort/retreat venue.
- Put together a program.
- Grab a bunch of paying clients.
After 10+ years of Retreat experience I can confidently say there’s much more to it. The Retreat Biz is not an instantly idyllic world and like any business you need to be the right fit.
Here’s what you might find out:
- You don’t like being responsible for people 24/7.
- Chilling out in the hammock or ducking out for a quick surf doesn’t happen.
- I’m exhausted. What happened to my holiday?
- You had no idea that laundry, pillow specification, lost credit cards and dietary requests could take up so much of your day.
- Frustration finds its way in. The weather turns foul as you reach the mountain summit, extinguishing all hopes of the expected jaw dropping sunrise. Flights get cancelled throwing plans in the air. Clients “forget” the essentials on what you thought was the bullet proof “what to pack” list….. etc. etc.
- It’s not the quick money maker you were hoping for, in fact it’s a distraction to your biz.
However for some, there’s loads of upside. You might find that:
- Gaining insights and sharing experiences with people who believe in what you do will immeasurably enrich your life.
- You can make a difference to each and every one in the group.
- Retreats are a perfect fit to your existing business providing an additional income stream, expanding your reach and your biz profile.
- The Retreat Biz is providing the lifestyle change you’ve been looking for, bringing in new travel destinations, new networks, as well as personal growth.
There’s plenty of opportunity to build a lifestyle around a Retreat Biz, however the amount of time spent in the hammock is dependent upon the work done behind the scenes.
Like any business, a Retreat Biz needs a purpose. Ideal clients have to be identified. There’s an art and science to successful programming. Systems, cost projections, venue negotiations, risk assessments and marketing strategies are needed. Then of course there’s the very human issue of group dynamics to deal with once the Retreat goes live.
Expectations are high. Retreats are serious ‘me time’ events.
The Retreat Biz changed my life. I choose to be very personal and active in my retreats. It’s a lifestyle, that I can’t deny has idyllic moments. Yes, at times I do ‘work’ from the hammock.
If you think the Retreat Biz is for you, but need a guiding hand, have a look at my Retreat Planning Made Simple Course. I’ve poured 10+ years of experience into a step-by-step guide. Work at your own pace. (It takes months to create the first retreat). I’ve kept it very accessible and affordable at $AUD175.
If you prefer to chat, book in for a Coaching Call. “Whilst I direct the call to achieve the pre-determined goals, I like to create a “collaborative coaching” mode, allowing space to explore, create, question the retreat project. Typically this leads us to the “bigger picture” allowing my years of experience as a Brand Strategy Manager to come in to play. There is nothing more satisfying than achieving that ‘aha’ moment about what the future could look like for you.”
If you’re a Venue Owner considering adding retreats to your business, I provide individual programs based on 10+ years of experience as a venue owner and retreat operator.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Willis started a retreat business with a few coconuts, rice sack sandbags and a bamboo gym. Sharing Bali broke the rules of the luxury dominated retreat industry, creating fun, affordable healthy retreats based on simple living in a Bali village.
Over 10 years the business grew into a platform that expanded to retreats for yoga, fusion fitness, writing, spiritual discovery, cooking, fitness adventures along with personalised programs on demand.
Currently hosting Active Travel + Simple Luxury small group travel experiences around the world with her latest venture Sharing Bali & Beyond, Karen is always looking for the next retreat idea.
‘Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.’